River to Redemption by Ann H. GabhartWhat happens: In 1833 Springfield, Kentucky, a cholera epidemic rages, leaving seven-year-old Adria an orphan. She's rescued by Louis, an enslaved Christian, who, instead of fleeing town like his owner and others, faithfully helps the sick and buries the dead. Twelve years later, when Louis is for sale, Adria, now an abolitionist, works for his freedom.
Did you know? This richly detailed, poignant novel is partially based on historical events and people, including real-life slave and hero Louis Sansbury.
What Blooms from Dust by James MarkertWhat happens: During the 1930s Dust Bowl, "Coin-Flip Killer" Jeremiah Goodbye escapes death and prison after a devastating tornado damages the penitentiary while he's in the electric chair. Heading home to Nowhere, Oklahoma (where he plans to exact revenge on his twin brother), he meets an odd young boy and the two find Nowhere in need of help.
For fans of: author Billy Coffey, whose atmospheric novels also beautifully incorporate elements of magical realism.
The Best of Intentions by Susan Anne MasonWhat happens: Grace Abernathy travels alone from Sussex, England to Toronto, Canada, in 1919, hoping to convince her war widow sister to bring her infant son and come home. But when she arrives, her sister has died from the Spanish flu and her uppity upper-crust in-laws have the baby. Hiding her identity, Grace is hired as her sweet nephew's nanny... and falls for his kind uncle.
Series alert: This is the uplifting 1st in the Canadian Crossings historical romance trilogy, which will follow three new friends who meet on the ship from England: Grace, Emmaline, and Quinten.
Where Hope Begins by Catherine WestStarring: shocked 40-year-old empty nester Savannah Barrington, whose husband of two decades has just left her for another woman.
What happens: Retreating to her parents' lake house in the Berkshires, Savannah finds hope and healing in the form of her neighbors: a wise elderly woman and a handsome man and his little girl. Then Savannah's husband asks to reconcile, and she must decide where her future lies.
Who it's for: readers who appreciate moving, leisurely paced stories with themes of loss, hopelessness and hope, and recovery.
More Than Meets the Eye by Karen WitemeyerStarring: Nineteen-year-old Evangeline Hamilton, an orphan with one blue eye and one brown (which causes some to think she's a witch or cursed), whose only family is the two other orphans she bonded with as a child, Zach and Seth.
What happens: In 1894 Texas, determined Logan Fowler arrives in town looking for revenge against Evangeline's gambling brother, Zach, whom he thinks ruined his father.
Series alert: Like Karen Witemeyer's other books, this delightful 1st in the Patchwork Family novels has wit, charm, and appealing characters.
Focus on: Speculative Fiction
The Progeny: A Novel by Tosca LeeStarring: Audra Ellison, who awakens to find her memory wiped -- and it's all part of a 400-year-old war between the charismatic descendants of the serial killer “Blood Countess” Elizabeth Bathory (of whom Audra is one) and a secret society dedicated to killing them.
For fans of: Those who like Ted Dekker may appreciate this suspenseful fantasy.
Series alert: This 1st in the Descendants of the House of Bathory duology is followed by Firstborn.
Dragonspell by Donita K. PaulIn a world where...there are seven high races, an evil wizard, dragons, ogres, and the beautiful city of Vendala, Kale, a 14-year-old slave girl from a small village, finds herself on a quest for a stolen dragon egg.
Who it's for: Like C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia books, this allegorical fantasy adventure novel, the 1st in a series, is good for all ages and makes a great family read-aloud.
Illusion: A Novel by Frank PerettiWhat happens: Dane's wife and magic partner of 40 years, Mandy, has just died in an accident...and she's also just awoken as her 19-year-old self, only in 2010 instead of 1970. Dane and Mandy (now known as Eloise) meet -- but with strange forces at work, both may be in danger.
Who it's for: fans of suspenseful, lengthy books (it's around 500 pages!).
Read this next: James Rubart's The Five Times I Met Myself, which also has time travel elements.
Talon of God by Wesley Snipes and Ray NormanWhat it's about: Talon Hunter, a Bible-quoting holy warrior, must convince atheist Chicago doctor Lauryn Jefferson to help stop a powerful demon and his minions from establishing a hell on earth.
Author buzz: Yes, one of the authors is talented actor Wesley Snipes, star of the Blade film series, who makes his fiction debut here.
Want a taste? "He stabbed his sword in the floor in front of him and fell to his knees dragging her down as well. 'If you want something, you have to ask. Pray, and you shall receive.'"